Support manpower development of African continent - Prof Yankah

BY: Shirley Asiedu-Addo
Professor Kwesi Yankah
Professor Kwesi Yankah

The Minister State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah has told development partners to support the manpower development of the African continent rather than narrowing their interest to the continent’s natural resources.

He said while the continent required partnerships in resource exploration for growth, the continent’s human resource development similarly required crucial support for stronger partnerships.

Prof Yankah was speaking at Australia-Africa Universities Network (AAUN) conference held at Perth in Australia on Monday, August 27, 2018.

He said the continent is seeking partnerships that would promote mutually beneficial linkages for the development of its people, noting that stronger minds grown through quality education were essential if other benefits of other collaborations would be optimized.

The AAUN annual conference being held at the University of Western Australia this year brings together stakeholders in education from Australia and Africa to discuss partnerships that would accelerate the development of education for the growth of the economies of the two continents.

The conference is part of activities to mark the Australia-Africa week in Perth.


A section of participants at the conference

Prof Yankah noted that the trajectory of one sided partnerships, particularly in education must give way to mutually beneficial engagements that would help bring up the less endowed for equal benefits.

He was of the view that though the continent had a lot of resources, it was important for foreign partnerships to invest in its human resource capacities to support strong economic growth and development on the continent.

Stereotypes

He said the stereotyping of Africa's contribution to the academic world despite was disappointing, and added although 12 percent of the world’s international students were Africans contributing to research, Africa’s contribution to academic knowledge and research was often ignored.

University Rankings

Prof Yankah said it was worrying that no university in Africa was part of the first 300 universities in the world’s rankings in 2016, adding that only eight African universities were in the first 1000 universities.

He said it was time for any collaboration with African educational institutions to seek to alleviate the lesser endowed institutions while ensuring that the stronger partner was not on the losing side.

Free SHS

Touching on the government’s free Senior High School policy, Prof Yankah said this had led to an 18 percent rise in enrolment.

He said the ministry of education was already working out plans in the area of infrastructure and manpower to support the tertiary institutions to be able to cope with the expected huge numbers resulting from the policy’s implementation.

Senator Reynolds

Senator of Western Australia, Linda Reynolds in her address said Africa was increasingly becoming a big investment destination in the world and could no longer be ignored.

She said it was therefore crucial the continent engages with partners to change perceptions for the development of individual countries and for the continent as a whole.
She stated that Australia’s interest in Africa extended from the extractive industry to agriculture, education and infrastructural development.

She said Australia was ready to develop research partnerships with a strong focus on innovation for start-ups and businesses.

Ms Gita Kamath, Assistant Secretary, Africa Branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia said she was optimistic such discussions would bring fruitful linkages between Africa and Australia.

Prof Cheryl de La Rey, Co-chair of the AAUN Africa said the network would look at developing the next generation of academicians who have the expertise in areas that would accelerate the growth and transformation of the continent.